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Rambus loses fraud claim appeal

Infineon may challenge Rambus over fraud allegations

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Infineon lawyers may now pursue accusations that Rambus acted fraudulently in its dealings with JEDEC while it sat on the chip industry standards body's SDRAM panel.

The judge presiding over Rambus' legal action against Infineon for alleged patent infringement, Robert E Payne, originally ruled that Infineon could pursue this line of enquiry. Rambus disagreed with the ruling, and asked the appeals court to overrule Payne.

On Friday, however, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with Payne. Rambus' action centred on matters of legal procedure, but it boils down to a claim that Payne exceeded his authority. According to the appellate ruling, he did not, and the upshot is that Infineon can now demand depositions from Rambus executives and their lawyers (hence the appeal) regarding just what Rambus told JEDEC about its SDRAM-related patent applications while it was a member of the SDRAM standard-setting panel and thus obliged to disclose such information.

Rambus was on the panel from 1992 to 1996. Its alleged behaviour in that period is central to Infineon's claim that it has not violated Rambus' intellectual property rights. Rambus resigned from the panel in 1996, though there are indications that it continued to receive information on what JEDEC was up to. ®

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